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Newsletters: July / August 2019

July/August 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to our latest newsletter - bringing you right up to date with useful benefit information. 

In this issue find out more about:

  • Transitional SDP Payments - available at long last!
     
  • Managed Migration to UC starts - how will Transitional Protection work?
     
  • Mixed Age Couples - important deadline looming - make a claim before it is too late and safeguard up to £7,000pa
     
  • 'Off-line' claims - getting a decision notice
     
  • Fraudulent UC claims - update
     
  • New standard letters - for home owners
     
  • Welfare Reform training - that will make a difference - Book now!
     
  • Your chance to WIN £50 for your local FOOD BANK and chocolates for you!
     
  • This month's really useful standard letter.
     
  • This month's really useful tool! 

New payments 
for those who lost their SDP
when they moved onto UC

Since 16th January 2019 the 'SDP Gateway Condition' has prevented those with a Severe Disability Premium in their IR-ESA, IS, IB-JSA or HB from having to claim UC. This means that they can retain their higher level of income on the legacy benefits system (there is no SDP in UC).

But many claimants lost their SDP by moving onto UC before this 'Gateway Condition' was introduced. And are worse off on UC than when they were on legacy benefits. 

The government had proposed compensation for these claimants, but failed to introduce this at the time when the SDP Gateway was introduced in January.

Fortunately, new UC Regulations have now been laid which, amongst other things, allow for 'Transitional SDP Payments'. 


For those entitled, there will be both a lump sum back payment to compensate them for the loss since making their claim for UC, plus an extra amount included in their UC award for each subsequent month they continue to meet the qualifying rules. There are set monthly amounts of either £120, £285 or £405, depending on the circumstances.

Who will be entitled?

Transitional SDP payments will be for those who:

  • Have already moved onto UC through ‘natural migration’, and
  • Lost out financially due to the loss of the Severe Disability Premium in an award of Income-Related ESA, Income-Based JSA or Income Support which ended within one month of the UC claim starting (nb this list does NOT include HB), and 
  • Have had a continuous entitlement to UC and are on UC when the DWP review their claim - ie it cannot be paid for UC awards which have terminated before this date because the claimant ceased to meet conditions of entitlement, and
  • Have not become or ceased to be a couple since moving onto UC, and
  • Have had a continuous award of and are still entitled to the disability benefit which would have made them eligible for the SDP (ie. the daily living component of PIP, middle or high care component of DLA, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance), and
  • Their carer has not started to receive Carer’s Allowance or a Carer Element in their own UC for looking after them.
Important!

The Regulations state that unless the claimant meets certain criteria on the date their case 'comes to the attention of' the DWP they will receive no compensation – not even for the period during which they did meet those criteria!

ie no back payments will be awarded unless the claimant is also entitled to on-going Transitional SDP Payments.

So, for anyone who - since moving onto UC up to the present time - does satisfy all the above points - it is best if the DWP are made aware of their situation NOW!

There are no guarantees how quickly the DWP will process payments - or whether they will prioritise claimants who make requests, but we think it is a good idea for claimants to note on their journals that they fit all the criteria.

We would hope that this would protect their entitlement to Transitional SDP Payments up to the present time, even if something should change between the date they notify the DWP and the date the DWP check their case.

For example, if one member of a couple leaves their partner, or dies, between now and whenever their case is looked at, then they can argue that their case had already come to the attention of the DWP - and could argue that as per the Regulations, any Transitional SDP payments were applicable up to the date of separation / death.

We have developed some 'standard text' for claimants - click on the box below.

 

CLICK HERE: For more info and standard letter

Managed Migration to UC Starts
New Regulations have been brought in to allow the DWP to select legacy benefit claimants for 'managed migration' onto Universal Credit from 24th July 2019 onwards.

This is different to 'natural migration' - ie where the claimant's changing circumstances can trigger the need to claim UC. In 'managed migration' the claimant either nominates him/herself or is selected by the DWP to be moved over to UC.

Initially 'managed migration' will only taking place in Harrogate, under a pilot. This pilot will, for a period of 12 months, look at the process of how 10,000 claimants move onto UC. The DWP then have to report back to Parliament before the official Regulations for 'managed migration' are laid and the DWP widen the net to other claimants (expected to be some time after July 2020).

The important difference for those who are 'manage migrated' to UC is that they could be entitled to transitional protection if they are worse off financially. The Regulations are quite complex! We have updated the website with our understanding of how these will work and added plenty of examples - click on the box below.

We will, of course, be keen to hear from those of you who work in the Harrogate area - please let us know your experiences over the next few weeks! 
CLICK HERE: For more info
Mixed Age Couples...
DEADLINE LOOMING!
13th August is the latest date by which a mixed age couple can make a backdated claim for Pension Credit or Housing Benefit (under the Pension Credit Age Regulations).

We have dealt with many queries through our email query service, where you have identified couples who had not yet claimed but could do so before it was too late.

These are mixed age couples:
  • Who have been living together as a mixed age couple since before 15th May 2019,
  • Where the older member of the couple was already Pension Credit Age before 15th May 2019,
  • Whose income has been low enough throughout the period going back to before 15th May 2019 for them to qualify for some PC or HB (under Pension Age rules), and
  • Who have not received IR-ESA, IB-JSA, IS, working age HB or UC during that period. 
CLICK HERE: For more info

Test your knowledge

on the new rules and how they affect
Mixed Age Couples


It only take 10 mins!
 
CLICK HERE: To take the test!

If you do one E-Learning course this year - make sure it's this one ….

You could save a couple
over £140 a week!


Click here
CLICK HERE: For more info

'Offline' claims -getting a decision letter
Some claimants, who, due to their complex needs, are unable to make an online claim for UC and are unlikely to be able to manage a claim online, can make and manage their Universal Credit claim over the telephone.

These claims are sometimes referred to as 'offline' or 'telephone' claims. They are not, in fact completely offline - the DWP can see and use the UC account - however the claimant has no access to it. Instead they communicate with the UC department via telephone, post and sometimes by text message.

We are aware that some 'offline' claimants have been told that they will be notified of decisions by phone and cannot have letters by post.

It is important that claimants get a written notification of any decision - so that they have information about the decision itself and their rights of appeal. The main reason someone would have an 'offline' claim would be due to their complex needs, therefore a telephone call without a follow-up letter to confirm would not be sufficient or appropriate.

If you come across this issue, it needs challenging! The DWP have a duty under the regulations to provide written notification of any decision which is appealable.

We have a new standard letter UC CD21 which claimants can use to request a written decision notice.
CLICK HERE: For more info and the standard letter

Fraudulent
UC Claims


Update

 
In our last newsletter, we highlighted the Advance Payments scam that was spreading across the UK. 

Since then, the BBC has reported on this matter, saying that an estimated 42,000 people may have fallen victim to the scam - and an estimated 1 in 10 Advance Payments are bogus.

Fraudsters, often pretending to be government officials offering a government grant, use their victim’s identity to make a bogus claim for Universal Credit and an online request for an Advance Payment. The fraudsters then keep or demand a substantial amount of the Advance for themselves.

The victim often only becomes aware of what has really happened when their legacy benefits stop and they find they are now a Universal Credit claimant with a large Advance to repay which they did not receive.

Following the BBC report, the matter was discussed in the House of Commons. 

Justin Tomlinson, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, said,
"Where it is clear that they have been a victim of fraud through no fault of their own, no, we would not expect them to pay it back, and yes, we would consider putting them back on to the legacy benefits if they were better off under those..."
He later clarified what he meant by adding 'There is a slight difference depending on whether some collusion was going on, or whether someone had been a beneficiary of the fraud. In a number of frauds we have seen, the claimants are part beneficiaries, and they may not be able to revert back. Those who have been totally scammed and had their identity stolen can be reverted back."
 

And then on 24th July Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pension, confirmed to the Work and Pensions Committee that,
'people who have been moved to universal credit by virtue of fraud, and who tell us that, will move back to legacy benefits if they choose that'.

 

So what should victims do?

Victims who had no idea that they were being scammed need to:

  • Report the incident to the Police via the Action Fraud number 0300 123 2040.
  • Explain the circumstances of the fraud and whether they received any of the Advance Payment themselves or were forced to transfer money to the fraudster. (They should only be asked to pay back what they actually received of the Advance Payment - although it could be difficult to prove they received less if they paid cash to the fraudster.)
  • Get advice about whether they are now worse off on UC. They may be able to request a return to the legacy benefit system. 
Even if they are not worse off financially on UC, we believe that if someone was scammed and was not aware that a claim for UC was being made in their name, then they could still request that the DWP allow them back onto the legacy benefit system.

Their argument would be that under Section 1 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 there is no entitlement to a benefit without a claim.  Where the ‘claim’ for UC was made without the knowledge or authority of the claimant we believe you can argue that it cannot be a valid claim. This means that there was no legal foundation for stopping the 'claimant's' legacy benefits, and they should therefore be restored.
CLICK HERE: For more info
Very early warning 
- about Post Office 
Card Accounts
 
closing
The DWP is starting to send rather misleading letters to claimants who have their benefits paid into a Post Office Card Account.

The letter says 'Our contract with the Post Office is ending. We would like you to tell us which account we should pay your money into instead'.

In fact, the government's contract with the Post Office is not ending until 30 November 2021!

So, claimants should not panic - there is plenty of time!
UC doesn't have to be paid into a bank account: click here

Advising someone who has been found fit for work?

Or helping with an ESA50/UC50 questionnaire?


We've updated our information on the
Work Capability Assessment criteria.


Click here for UC
and 
click here for ESA

 

More new Standard Letters 

We are always creating new standard letters and adding to the website. In addition to the offline claim request for decision letter mentioned above we also have two new letters for home owners who are needing a loan for support with their mortgage interest.

UC SMI 1 is to ensure that, after a nine month period of continuous entitlement to UC, the claimant is eligible for the loan for support with mortgage interest, even if the claimant has done some work during that period.
UC SMI2 is for someone whose SMI payments stopped due to them working, but their UC entitlement continued. The letter is to ensure that, once no longer working, the SMI payments can resume without the need to serve a new qualifying period.

More info and standard letters HERE

Have you seen our
EEA Nationals and UC Help Pack?


Click here to get started....

  Welfare Reform Training  

Keep up-to-date with all the changes and make sure your tenants aren't missing out:

Mixed age couples
Transitional SDP Payments
UC Problem areas
Reducing arrears
UC and EEA Nationals
UC and Supported Housing


You choose what the day covers...

Sound interesting?- get a date booked in!
email: training@housingsystems.co.uk
in-house course for just £965+vat
(no hidden extras)!

 
Click here for our training brochure

This month's 
useful 'tool'


For anyone who has health problems, literacy problems, difficult circumstances etc and who is claiming Universal Credit, it is very important that their Work Coach is aware of these issues.

Claimants can use our Complex Needs letter as a template, or just as a prompt as to what adjustments they could request.

This will help to ensure their UC claim is not terminated and their Claimant Commitment is appropriate - to avoid sanctions.

 
CLICK HERE for more info and standard letter


This month's useful
standard letter



 
Getting a Housing Cost Element included in UC where living in sheltered (but not 'specified') accommodation
 
Many residents who live in sheltered housing schemes manage their daily life and have either no or minimal care / support / supervision.

A common problem for UC claimants who live in sheltered accommodation provided by a Housing Association is that the DWP (in most cases incorrectly) say that they should claim Housing Benefit for help with their rent.

The DWP frequently state that all sheltered and supported housing schemes count as 'specified accommodation'. But it is much more complex than that! Many who live in sheltered schemes would not fit the definition of living in 'specified accommodation' and should be getting a Housing Cost Element within their UC award instead.

The problem is that it is the Housing Benefit Office's job - not the DWP's - to decide whether the claimant fits the definition of living in 'specified accommodation' - or not. And usually this means making a HB claim in order to get this decision!

Claimants in this situation can use standard letter 
UC SP2 to notify the DWP that they have asked the HB Office to look into this and to request that, once a decision is made that they are not living in 'specified accommodation', the Housing Cost Element can be awarded from the Monthly Assessment Period during which the claimant moved into the accommodation or claimed UC (whichever is applicable).
 
CLICK HERE for more info and standard letter


Your chance to
win £50 for your local food bank

 
Every month we give you the chance to win £50 for your local food bank
The winner will be selected at random and can nominate a food bank of their choice to receive a £50 cheque from us, and will receive a box of chocolates for themselves.


Well done to the June's winner -  Nicky from Clarion Housing
 - a £50 cheque is making its way to her chosen food bank.
To enter this month's competition, just email the answer to the question below to us by Friday 23rd August 2019 for your chance to win.


This month's quiz .....

The Equality Act 2010 sets out the duty on service providers and those exercising public functions - such as the DWP and local authorities - to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

The definition of ‘disability’ in the Act is a physical or mental condition which has a 
substantial and long-term adverse impact on the person’s ability to do normal day to day activities. The beneficial effects of medication or treatment should be disregarded – ie the definition refers to how someone would be without their treatment.

Question - What is the definition of 
substantial and long-term as per the Equality Act 2010?

Find the answer on the website here.

email your answer to: info@housingsystems.co.uk

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